Re ‘credit hold’ on a cruise

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Editor’s note: The following letter refers to the January ’05 “Cruising World” column in which Dr. Lew Toulmin wrote about a woman who, in advance of a cruise, objected to signing a document authorizing the line to put a “hold” of a certain amount on her credit card to ensure there was sufficient credit to pay for her on-board expenses.

A credit hold is not a credit charge. Granted. As an experienced cruising traveler, including having taken some cruises with Holland America Line (not my favorite operator), I have never agreed to permit a hold to be placed on my credit card. Please forgive me, but the arguments made by Lew Toulmin justifying the procedure do not hold water (saltwater, if you will forgive that as well).

A good cruise operator often (but not always) requires a reasonable onboard expenses deposit, which can be made by credit card or by cash and is settled at the end of the cruise in the same manner, by either a refund or cash. These are the only times the cruise operator needs to contact a credit card company.

Placing a hold on a credit card is a distasteful expression of a confrontational distrust between the parties, one that is reminiscent of a cattle-car approach to leisure travel: “You don’t trust me. Well, then, I will give you ample reasons for that. I don’t trust you either!”

It is counterproductive and demeaning to the vast majority of those who pay their bills when due. Forgetaboutit!

Dr. ELIE A. SHNEOUR
San Diego, CA

When shown the above letter, Dr. Toulmin wrote the following.

I showed this e-mail to my wife and she said, “He’s got a point.” Nevertheless, I’d like to highlight the differences in the options described by Dr. Shneour and myself.

HOLD ON TO YOUR CASH — Using Dr. Shneour’s approach, early in a voyage you would give the cruise line some of your hard-earned cash for the line to hold as a deposit against your future spending. This amount could be as much as several thousand dollars. (Alternatively, he says you could sign an advance credit card slip for a “reasonable amount.”)

Carrying around that much cash strikes me as unsafe. More importantly, I was taught to NEVER give my cash (or a signed credit charge slip) to a stranger unless I was paying for goods received.

What’s the difference and who cares? Well, suppose the cruise line goes bust in the middle of your cruise. Such a thing has happened before and it will happen again. If it does, the cruise line is holding your cash and you might not get it back! If you use my approach, however, then just a portion of your credit is reserved for a limited amount of time but your cash is not touched.

SAME DIFFERENCE — Dr. Shneour objects to the “confrontational distrust between the parties that is reminiscent of a cattle car” in the line’s demanding a credit hold. But what is non-confrontational about demanding a cash deposit (which he actually recommends)?

Regarding Dr. Shneour’s point that a credit hold is “demeaning to the vast majority of those who pay their bills when due,” I agree that in any society where everyone pays all their bills on time and no one cheats, then deposits or credit holds would be unnecessary and demeaning. Unfortunately, often there are a few bad apples and forgetful persons who just don’t pay their bills. In the cruise situation, if the line gets stung by some of these people, then what will happen? The line will charge future passengers higher prices.

I maintain that imposing a “credit hold” is a reasonable practice of cruise lines and, considering the alternatives, a desirable option for passengers.

Do any other readers have a comment on or experience with this practice?

LEW TOULMIN
Contributing Editor

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Editor’s note: The following letter refers to the January ’05 “Cruising World” column in which Dr. Lew Toulmin wrote about a woman who, in advance of a cruise, objected to signing a document authorizing the line to put a “hold” of a certain amount on her credit card to ensure there was sufficient credit to pay for her on-board expenses.

A credit hold is not a credit charge. Granted. As an experienced cruising traveler, including having taken some cruises with Holland America Line (not my favorite operator), I have never agreed to permit a hold to be placed on my credit card. Please forgive me, but the arguments made by Lew Toulmin justifying the procedure do not hold water (saltwater, if you will forgive that as well).

A good cruise operator often (but not always) requires a reasonable onboard expenses deposit, which can be made by credit card or by cash and is settled at the end of the cruise in the same manner, by either a refund or cash. These are the only times the cruise operator needs to contact a credit card company.

Placing a hold on a credit card is a distasteful expression of a confrontational distrust between the parties, one that is reminiscent of a cattle-car approach to leisure travel: “You don’t trust me. Well, then, I will give you ample reasons for that. I don’t trust you either!”

It is counterproductive and demeaning to the vast majority of those who pay their bills when due. Forgetaboutit!

Dr. ELIE A. SHNEOUR
San Diego, CA

When shown the above letter, Dr. Toulmin wrote the following.

I showed this e-mail to my wife and she said, “He’s got a point.” Nevertheless, I’d like to highlight the differences in the options described by Dr. Shneour and myself.

HOLD ON TO YOUR CASH — Using Dr. Shneour’s approach, early in a voyage you would give the cruise line some of your hard-earned cash for the line to hold as a deposit against your future spending. This amount could be as much as several thousand dollars. (Alternatively, he says you could sign an advance credit card slip for a “reasonable amount.”)

Carrying around that much cash strikes me as unsafe. More importantly, I was taught to NEVER give my cash (or a signed credit charge slip) to a stranger unless I was paying for goods received.

What’s the difference and who cares? Well, suppose the cruise line goes bust in the middle of your cruise. Such a thing has happened before and it will happen again. If it does, the cruise line is holding your cash and you might not get it back! If you use my approach, however, then just a portion of your credit is reserved for a limited amount of time but your cash is not touched.

SAME DIFFERENCE — Dr. Shneour objects to the “confrontational distrust between the parties that is reminiscent of a cattle car” in the line’s demanding a credit hold. But what is non-confrontational about demanding a cash deposit (which he actually recommends)?

Regarding Dr. Shneour’s point that a credit hold is “demeaning to the vast majority of those who pay their bills when due,” I agree that in any society where everyone pays all their bills on time and no one cheats, then deposits or credit holds would be unnecessary and demeaning. Unfortunately, often there are a few bad apples and forgetful persons who just don’t pay their bills. In the cruise situation, if the line gets stung by some of these people, then what will happen? The line will charge future passengers higher prices.

I maintain that imposing a “credit hold” is a reasonable practice of cruise lines and, considering the alternatives, a desirable option for passengers.

Do any other readers have a comment on or experience with this practice?

LEW TOULMIN
Contributing Editor